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17 August 2017

Today I have learnt to do a Blog in anticipation of my big trip to Europe.  I say Europe but in actual fact, I am going to Paris and then getting a train down to St Jean Pied de Port and walking the Way of St James – the Camino de Compostella – from France across the top of Spain into Santiago – 800kms.

Two weeks until I fly out of Sydney off on my big adventure.  It has been a while since I travelled to the northern hemisphere and I am sure I will see a lot of changes but this will add to the experience and adventure I am about to embark on.

 

 

Last day at La Jagee

After the fabulous dinner we had last night everyone is very slow today.

Bob headed off to the train just after breakfast as he was heading back to Paris a day earlier and today everyone is pottering.

On our return from Villandry yesterday there was the most beautiful house which would be a small chateau I suppose called Le Gerfaut which is also a Hotel. We made enquiries cycling home yesterday and all the girls have booked in for morning tea this morning. We are going to cycle there in our good clothes. That should be funny.

We are here and it is amazing.

The lady came out to greet us and what a delight.

Then we went inside. To think that the lady, her husband and 3 children live there and are 6th generation.

This was the lock on one of the doors off the salon.

And the plates were stunning

After our lovely morning tea of which the lady had made everything herself we wandered through the beautiful parklands and after lots of au revoir and we will be back we rode back to Azay Le Rideau and went to the first supermarket I had seen in France to get a french meal of fromage, foie gras, vin, baguettes and anything else french for a picnic dinner back at La Jagee for our last night in the Loire.

The most craziest thing I saw at the supermarket was out the front you could do your laundry while doing your shopping

And also you bring your bottle to the store and fill it up out of a machine straight from the cow. The milk here is unpasteurised.

Every morning our milk from La Jagee is out of a bottle that Kerrie had been into town and filled up from the machine.

We cycled back into town and found a Boulangerie where we had pastries, quiche and a cup of tea and Jane and I then cycled home and the others went off and did their thing.

We are now sitting on the verandah drinking a cheeky french rose in the lovely sunny afternoon of our last day in the Loire.

Now the girls have joined us and we have undone all the fabulous food we bought today with the baguettes and we are feasting on food, sparkling wine and rose.

So our week at La Jagee is coming to an end. We have had a great time.

Hindsight has become the buzz word but we have had a lot of laughs, a lot of singing on our bikes and more eating and drinking than I have done in a long time but worth every minute.

Au revoir all my followers. Until next trip.

X

Villandry

Woke this morning to glorious sunshine and the sun coming through the trees with dappled light. Very pretty looking out our window to the garden.

We had made the decision to have an easy day and cycle to Villandry to see the chateau.

We set off through town in the sunshine and headed out the way we had originally come into at the beginning of the week.

Bike path the whole way back to Villandry.

We had a slight concern about the way to go but we knew we were heading in the right direction so headed off and before we knew it we were back in Villandry at the church we had passed on the way through on Saturday where a wedding was taking place.

A lot of these old buildings are so old when you go inside that the smell of damp and musty sometimes can be a bit overpowering. That was how it was in the church so didn’t spend a lot of time in there.

By this time we seemed to have lost the men and we just had the 6 girls so we headed down to the entry road to the chateau and there was a cafe and boulangerie. It was coffee and cake time and OMG the pastries.

After having the best coffee since being in France we headed up to the chateau and there was 2 whole huge areas for bike parking

The wonderful thing about visiting all these chateau’s is that if you show your ticket from the last one you visited you get a discount on the next one which is such a good idea and makes it so much more affordable to go and see these amazing places.

Being here at this time has been great as even though it has been both hot and cold there have not been heaps and heaps of tourists and sometimes we have been wandering around and been the only people there.

So the Villandry Chateau what an amazing building and the gardens are all vegetables

The gardens were all designed on the original renaissance designs back in the Middle Ages.

It took us well over 2 hours to see everything. There was even a maze which we had to try our hand at.

The chateau is still owned by a private person whose heritage is Spanish and American who married back in the 1800s and renovated and built it into what it is today having researched the history books to discover what the chateau was originally like and also the gardens. It was spectacular.

All throughout the chateau in every room the flowers were fantastic and the smell of the lilies and the roses was beautiful

We ended up in the gift shop and knew it was time for lunch and a glass of wine.

It was time to head back to La Jagee as it had been a big day.

When we got back to La Jagee we sat on the verandah in the sun and now we are all showered and dressed up and having pre dinner drink in anticipation of tonight’s special dinner that Kerrie and Kerry have cooked for us this evening as a last night on our trip.

So it is the end of a lovely day and tomorrow is our last day in the Loire and we have a lovely last day planned.

Bon nuit mes amies.

Troglodytes

Woke up to no rain this morning and by the time we set off on our bikes the sun was shining.

When I woke this morning as well as all the normal birds chattering away in the trees there was a cuckoo who was having a lovely time. If it was a cuckoo clock it would be at least 50 o’clock by now.

Had to reacquaint myself with my bike as we hadn’t ridden for 3 days. Oiled the bike chain and put on the riding gear and now we are off to see Troglodytes.

There is a tourist destination about 3kms out of town which we rode to called Troglodyte Valley. The Goupillieres which was also on the name plate is the old language name for foxes. The beautiful little red ones which are virtually extinct now.

Well what an amazing place. They were troglodyte caves built into the side of hills They were peasants from the Tours region who possessed nothing but their physical strength to dig into the hills of tufa to turn them into dwellings and to extract the limestone that was used for centuries in the construction of 200 chateau, 700 churches and many houses in the Loire Valley.

We were there for quite a few hours as it was so interesting. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

We headed off down the road to Sache which was the home, outside Paris, of Balzac.

We had coffee in the square and the boulangerie was open so fresh pastries with our coffee before we moved on to the museum/house.

Another fabulous house and the site where Balzac wrote The Human Comedy where he combined human bodies with animal heads. He wrote 27 volumes of the Human Comedy and after they were published he went through them again and made more edits but only for himself.

Out in the barn/shed of the house was a fantastic display of photos of the animal heads with human clothing. One was a cassowary. Very interesting

From there we cycled back through Sache to Villaines where there was a co-op where basket weaving is a huge industry. We watched the craftsmanship of the artisans as they wove all sorts of things from baskets to chairs and tables. They even had a tea tower.

As we were leaving I discovered I had a flat tyre and of course had left my spare back at the house. We pumped it up and it seemed to be ok which was a relief as we had 4kms to go before we were back at La Jagee.

Luckily it seemed that the tyre was just flat and needed pumping up as we got back to our place and it was still ok.

Jane and I decided to go on to another chateau we wanted to see which was l’islette built in the 16th century. Another beautiful chateau with exquisite gardens and a mill house beside it which was built before the chateau.

What I am finding very interesting is how deceiving the size of the chateau’s are. L’Islette is only one room wide and as all the rooms are so large there are only about 3-4 rooms per floor. Very deceiving from outside. They are all set on parkland which are flowers, trees big chestnuts and conifers. Very beautiful

So now we are sitting in the mill house having a big glass of rose before we head back to La Jagee.

We left and in the way home thought I would stop into the bike shop to check my back tyre. The man was gorgeous and it turned out my actual tyre had worn through so he fixed both the slow leak and replaced my outside tyre.

Jane and I popped into town while my bike was being fixed had a glass of wine and did some shopping, picked up the bike and headed home.

It was a quick change and we decided to cycle into town for dinner.

Had a fabulous french dinner at a wonderful bistro in town

So dinner is over and we are heading home after another wonderful day in the Loire.

Tomorrow another amazing chateau

Vive Le France 🇫🇷

Bon nuit

Loire Valley

Woke to pouring rain again this morning and it was heavy. Not as heavy as we get but it was wet.

We were supposed to be leaving on our bikes at 8.30 but we turned over and went back to sleep as cycling in the rain was not appealing.

Glad to say everyone felt the same way so rather than riding to Chinon to see the sites we decided to get the train.

The lovely Kerry offered to drop us at the station at Azay Le Rideau and we jumped in the train and went off to Chinon.

Laura, Libby and Jonathan rode their bikes to the station and Jane, Ross, Isla and I went in the car.

The rain had dissipated a little so Jane and I walked into Chinon while Laura, Libby and Jonathan cycled into the tourist office.

This is the area of Joan of Arc. Massive statue of Joan in the town centre.

Met everyone in town and went to the tourist bureau. Jane and I wanted to do a river cruise but because of the rain they didn’t think it would happen plus it didn’t go until 4pm so too late.

Not to worry.

We went and had a coffee and planned what we would. We walked through town and there was a massive double lift that would take us up to the fortress at the top of the ridge above the town.

The fortress of Chinon sits above the medieval town of Chinon with the river La Vienne flowing through the town below.

This amazing fortress was built in the 15th century and expanded over the years. Once you got up to the fortress the view was amazing right across the valley and the river and vineyards of the Loire.

There were so many different parts of the fortress to see. The kings apartments, the dog tower, the ramparts etc etc. was just amazing to wander through these places and imagine what it must have been like all those years ago.

We spent the next 3 hours wandering around the fortress going down into dungeons and latrines and up onto ramparts. Lost in a time thousands of years ago

There was a lovely cafe in the grounds so we stopped for lunch and the mandatory glass of wine and after the gift shop we headed down the hill.

As Laura, Libby and Jonathan had bikes they rode off down the hill while Jane and I went down the cobble street to the bottom through the medieval part of town.

OMG it is all so breathtaking and at every turn there is something old and fabulous to see.

As it is a Monday there are a lot of things closed so when we got back to town the museum want open. Unfortunate but this is France.

Jane and I decided to wander back to the train station while the others cycled back. We got to the station with about 50 mins to kill but there was a local bar across the road. A bit like a cafe in Sydney but we were able to have a vin rouge and vin rose while we waited for the others.

We are now on the train returning to Azay Le Rideau and back to La Jagee.

Another great day in France and it isn’t over yet.

Saw the most beautiful paddock of flowers which I think was lavender from the train. What I am loving is most fields/paddocks are surrounded by poppies as well as them growing in the middle of the paddocks of barley and wheat.

We are now back at La Jagee and enjoying the lovely sitting room before we head out to dinner in town.

We went to a little french restaurant just at the entrance to the chateau for dinner and it was fabulous 2nd best meal I have had in France.

And the Tarte Citron was to die for

So mon amies it is the next day and I am a day late with my blog but European wifi can be tricky

Au revoir.

La Jagee – Loire Valley

Woke this morning to pouring rain but a day off today. No one woke until after 8 and am pleased to say after a week was able to do some washing. It was a rest day today so everyone could do whatever they wanted.

Beautiful breakfast and a lazy morning. Sat in the beautiful lounge room and read my book for a while and suddenly the sun came out and it was hot.

La Jagee is owned by Australians and the every wall is covered in aboriginal art. Absolutely stunning.

Bob, Jane and I decided to walk into town and explore and as we walked out of the driveway of La Jagee there were serious cyclists passing us on the road.

By the time we got into town there were Marshall’s and traffic people directing traffic as there was a triathlon on and the cyclist were cycling 180kms. OMG. you should have seen both the bikes and the muscles on the cyclists

We wandered into town an oh how I love the french villages.

Wandering through the town and it was so fabulous and turned the corner and there was the chateau

Unbelievable and So beautiful. I could live there quite easily. What I found deceiving was the size of the chateau from the outside but inside because of the size of the rooms and the height of the ceilings there were only a few rooms between one side of the chateau to the other.

It was absolutely amazing and then to walk around the grounds. It had a moat and outhouses and I definitely felt a french connection but only with Living in a chateau

I could imagine the dresses and the cold of the chateau. The fireplaces were huge and lots of chimneys.

Spent quite a few hours wandering through the chateau and the gardens and afterwards went and sat in the cafe and had a coffee and cheese board.

Wandered all around town after this and so gorgeous every turn in the path was a photo moment.

We found a lovely cafe and sat down for a glass of wine. The sun was very hot and relentless

Sue and Linda came out of the chateau and joined us for a glass of wine and then headed back to La Jagee.

We are now all back sitting in the lovely sitting room having wine and cheese and foie de grae baguette and wine and enjoying our rest day.

We have booked dinner in town and will walk into town for dinner a little later.

We have now walked in and out of town twice today. Back in for dinner at a lovely restaurant called La Salamander and it was lovely

Had a great night and stopped off for a night cap before walking home.

Tomorrow we are back on our bikes and cycling to another beautiful french town called Chinon so it is off to bed for me. Just got dark and it is just on 11pm. Love daylight savings

Bon nuit mes amies.

Caen to La Jagee in the Loire Valley

Today we head off by train to Tours and then ride approximately 20kms to La Jagee which is the place we will be staying at for the next week.

I had a little incident last night.

In France in some hotels they put a small mattress over the other mattress and make up the bed. Well I must have tossed and turned a bit too much so rolled over, the top mattress had moved off the bed and I fell out of bed onto the floor. Luckily I didn’t hurt myself but it woke Jane up so the two of us just sat there and laughed and laughed.

So we were up this morning and after breakfast went for a walk around town by the canal.

During the war Caen was totally destroyed by bombs so the whole town had to be rebuilt. It was quite different to where we had been before in little french villages. It was a big bustling town and lots of traffic but there were bike paths everywhere.

We met everyone in the foyer and loaded up the bikes and rode to the station where we put our bikes on board and now we are travelling in a very comfortable train on our way to Tours.

We are now sitting in the train at Le Mans station and not going anywhere as someone further up the track has put a tree across the line. Purposely apparently. Luckily Laura, one of the ladies on the trip speaks good french and can translate. So we are just sitting and waiting.

Eventually got underway and got into Tours about 3.30ish. Kerry and Kerrie from La Jagee were there to meet us and take all our panniers in the car while we all cycled to their place which was approximately 35kms away.

The sun was out, blue sky and it was hot.

Set off out of town and it was bike path the entire 35 kms to La Jagee.

All along the river, through told towns, past a chateau or two and came upon this little park right by the water with a good van run by 3 lovely women who were making home made crepes. Couldn’t go past that so we got off our bikes, ordered crepes, coffee, ice cream or whatever you wanted and then sat in the park in a deck chair and ate it. What a perfect place for a rest.

We continued on and again passed some lovely villages and all on bike paths and finally arrived at La Jagee at about 6.30 and what a gorgeous spot. 18th century with some parts dating back to 14th century. Lovely big grounds and gardens and run by an Australian couple from Haberfield who decided to sell up and move to France. Kerrie and Kerry own and run it and it was lovely.

Because it was such a perfect hot night when we had all showered and changed we met on the terrace for champagne and then a huge cooked dinner straight out of the Weber.

4 courses later and at 11.45 we were still sitting outside enjoying the meal and the company. Oh so french!

Am in bed now in a lovely big room with french windows ready for the rest of this week as we are staying here until Friday so will just do day trips and come back in the evening.

Bon nuit

Bayeux to Caen

What an amazing and emotional day today.

Got up this morning and could hardly see 10 feet in front of us as it was thick thick fog.

Had our breakfast and I pumped my tyres up and off we went. So thick that we had our lights on and reflective clothing on.

I needed windscreen wipers for my glasses as riding through the fog was very damp.

Rode out of town and bike paths and lanes everywhere. Love it and felt very safe riding in the thick of it.

As we were riding along out of nowhere came this guy on a motorbike in full army dress. He was riding back to the UK

We rode out to Amaranche where the Normandy invasion happened and of course yesterday there had been lots of celebrations.

There were lots of veterans wandering around and I had my photo taken with one man who was 94 and been in the invasion of Normandy. His photo was blown up and on the wall outside the tourist office and inside the coffee shop was a photo of him when he signed up and now.

He is the man to the left of me.

It was so emotional seeing all this and as I said the fog was really bad. There was a museum there with wreaths laid at the front door and a very emotional poem.

We saw so many wonderful things on the road as we cycled along. Gorgeous houses

Then out of the blue as we were cycling along the beach all these old army jeeps appeared in the fog driving along the beach

There seemed to be a continual lump in my throat and tears in my eyes being there and seeing all this today. War is such a terrible thing.

We then cycled up the hill to the 360degree cinema and watched footage of the invasion and OMG. I couldn’t stop crying. So emotional and such a waste of life as so many men were 19-23.

We bought a few souvenirs at the shop on the way out and back in the bikes and headed off to Caen

We cycled on the most fabulous bike paths beside the main roads

On the way into Caen there was a British cemetery that we stopped to look at. Beautifully looked after but so young the people that were in the cemetery. Some gravestones said ‘unknown’ known to god. Very moving

We were just 3 kms from our end of journey and one of the girls got a puncture so a quick procedure was put in place to fix it in the shade as by this time the fog had burnt off and it was really hot

So we arrived in Caen at about 4.30 right on peak hour but great bike paths so not too bad. Found our hotel and we are settled in.

Jane and I showered and changed and out into the town.

Caen was another town that was bombed during the war so lots of new buildings rather than the beautiful old architecture of pre-war.

We had drinks and dinner and met a lot of English men who were related to people in the war who were down here to celebrate.

It was a wonderful and emotional day and now it is time for bed

Bon nuit mes amies

M x